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​Best In Class. And Beyond.

Best in class and beyond

Graduate Recruiter’s Disability Café 12 (GR’12)
Everything you need to know about attracting and recruiting disabled graduates.
Hosted by Allen & Overy

> view the executive summary

Over the past few years Helen Cooke, Director and Founder of My Plus Consulting, has amassed a huge amount of insights and expertise into graduate recruitment and disability. These insights were brought together in the form of best practice in this 12th Disability Café, and shared with graduate recruiters and other key stakeholders working in this space.

To begin the Café, Helen addressed the assembled delegates and identified the five key areas of graduate recruitment which businesses must focus on improving: Strategy, Websites, Attraction, Encouraging Openness and Ensuring Barrier-Free Recruitment.

Helen started by emphasising the need to have a strategy in place before moving on to do anything else. Helen stressed that without a strategy, progress is at best slow and at worst non existent. A clear strategy focuses recruiters on what they want to achieve, how they want to achieve it and the resources required.

Helen then moved on to speak about Websites and Attraction. She stressed that employers must ensure that their careers pages cover disability specific information rather than merely offering an all-encompassing diversity statement. It was also highlighted that careers events must be accessible and that representatives must deal sensitively with any questions from disabled applicants.

Following Helen’s presentation, the delegates had the opportunity to discuss what they had heard in small groups and consider the implications for their own organisations. The need for more profiles of disabled employees to appear on corporations’ careers websites was seized upon by the delegates who considered this to be a most pressing issue. 

After a short coffee break, during which delegates tucked into the very delicious muffins, the second half began with a discussion on the necessity of encouraging openness amongst disabled applicants. Helen advised that employers must reassure candidates that openness about their requirements from an early stage in the recruitment process gives employers the time to implement the necessary support and adjustments. On their part, businesses must be clear with applicants as to what is done with this sensitive information.

The final key area under discussion was the overarching need for the recruitment process to be barrier-free from the first application through to the attitudes of an organisation’s workforce. Best practice must include accessible websites which have application forms in different formats and there must be space to state mitigating circumstances. Crucially, businesses must ensure that interviewers are confident to interview disabled candidates.

Once all the five key areas above had been discussed in smaller groups there were opportunities for delegates to report their findings to the whole assembly. The following issues emerged from these group discussions:

  • Businesses must find employees with disabilities from across the organisation who are willing to be profiled on their corporation’s website. This is a powerful catalyst to encourage openness.
  • Graduates and current students stressed the need for opportunities to speak with employers before the assessment process. A chance to talk things over with a named individual could offer reassurance that the necessary adjustments were in place. Once inside an organisation it was also thought to be beneficial for these new employees to have a point of contact to ensure that ongoing support was in place.
  • The key emerging theme of the day was that ‘quick wins’ could be made to overcome potential barriers. Once you really examine the resources available in your business, common sense solutions can often be found to implement best practice in barrier-free graduate recruitment.

The Café concluded with a drinks reception providing the valuable chance for delegates to network and pick up on points raised earlier in the day.